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FBI refuses to release Comey memos while investigation ongoing
The FBI won't be publicly releasing any memos that ousted FBI director James Comey wrote about his conversations with President Donald Trump because they might interfere with an ongoing investigation.
The Hill made requested those memos, citing open records law, on May 16, the day a New York Times report revealed their existence.
Those documents, however, fall under a part of the law that allows agencies to withhold records if they have been "compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information... could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings," according to a letter the FBI sent to The Hill.
Comey told a Senate panel that he wrote the memos recapping conversations with Trump because the longtime FBI director was "honestly concerned that [the president] might lie."
The memos reportedly include a description of one private conversation with Trump when he allegedly asked Comey to end an investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had been fired for allegedly misleading the vice president about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, according to the Times report.
"The records responsive to your request are law enforcement records," the FBI said in its denial. "There is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and release of the informationů could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."
Buzzfeed received an identical denial letter for the same memos, according to a report.
The denial comes as several organizations – including USA Today, the New York Times, CNN and conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch – have sued to receive the documents.
Since the report about Trump's request to "[let] go" of the investigation into Flynn, there have been questions swirling about whether Trump may be under investigation for obstruction of justice.
"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," Trump said to Comey during a Feb. 14 meeting, according to the memo. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
About three months later, Trump fired Comey, using recommendations from the top two Justice Department officials as justification.
The president then told foreign officials that him firing Comey had eased the investigation into whether Russia had interfered in the U.S. elections in favor of Trump.
"I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump said to Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the firing, according to a New York Times report. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
On Friday morning, Trump wrote tweets that suggested he might be under investigation.
"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!" Trump said on Twitter. He called the investigation a "witch hunt."
[Source: By Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, Washington, 16Jun17]
|This document has been published on 19Jun17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|